Press freedom in tatters in Hong kong


The city’s major journalist union warned on Thursday (July 15) that Hong Kong’s press freedoms are “in shreds” as China remoulds the formerly vocal commercial centre in its authoritarian image, adding that it worried “fake news” regulations were on the way.
Mr Ronson Chan, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), stated as the union released its annual report, “The past year has undoubtedly been the worst year for press freedom thus far.”
The research cited a series of incidents that have influenced the media since China imposed a broad national security ordinance on Hong Kong last summer in an attempt to quell dissent following massive and often deadly democratic demonstrations the year before.
According to the authors, the jailing of pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai and the freezing of his Apple Daily newspaper’s assets, according to the authors, led to the shutdown of the Beijing-critical daily.
More than 700 journalists have lost their jobs, and Lai and several Apple Daily officials have been charged with attempting to damage China’s national security through the publication’s reportage.
ACCORDING TO THE ARTICLE, the HKJA also accused the authorities of converting the city’s public broadcaster, RTHK, into a “government propaganda machinery” by firing key personnel and cancelling current affairs programmes.
The study also cautioned that accessing public databases was becoming more complex, citing one RTHK journalist’s conviction for using car licence plates to investigate a violent attack on pro-democracy activists by regime loyalists. Financial transparency advocates have criticised the administration for attempting to prevent journalists from obtaining the identities of firm owners on the city’s registry.
“Authoritative repression is felt across many types of media,” the study said. “Under a harsh administration, freedoms have deteriorated significantly.”
Mr Chan expressed concern that new legislation restricting the media was in the works. Hong Kong’s top leaders and pro-Beijing politicians have advocated for “fake news” legislation, which critics worry would be used to suppress reporting that the authorities hate.


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